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Sundre Aquaplex hot tub reopens after four-year hiatus

Sundre indoor pool and fitness centre’s hot tub had not been operational since the pandemic and now meets newer Alberta Health standards

SUNDRE – For the first time since the pandemic, patrons of the Sundre Aquaplex once again have the opportunity to enjoy soaking in a hot tub.

“It’s surreal,” said Kari McQuaid, the indoor pool and fitness centre’s manager, about finally completing the project after so many years in the making.

“It was so missed, every day."

Shut down alongside so many other facilities during the public health measures introduced in March 2020, the hot tub ended up remaining off limits even as the restrictions were slowly but surely eased off and eventually lifted completely.

“The whole facility was shut down during COVID, and there had been some questions about the hot tub being safe prior to that,” said McQuaid, adding that the Sundre & District Aquatic Society, which administers the operation of the Aquaplex, had been coordinating with Alberta Health to ensure compliance with modernized codes.

“Due to the newest standards that had come come into play, (Alberta Health) didn’t let us reopen the hot tub after the COVID shut down,” she said.

And it wasn’t just local patrons who would regularly inquire at the front desk when the hot tub would reopen, she said, adding there are many visitors who come through town and also enjoy putting the facility to use.

“We were blessed to be pretty busy during it all,” she said, referring to the pool and the fitness centre that remained available even amid the restrictions that were in place at the time.

“We had a lot of people that still appreciated all the other things we had to offer, but there definitely were some people who were waiting to come back until that hot tub was reopened,” she said.

While there was a soft opening for the hot tub on April 5, McQuaid said the more official announcement came the following day.

“I’ve seen a lot of happy people in the hot tub,” she said.

“Everybody’s in it; whether it’s the swimmers, whether it’s the kids of swimming lessons or the people from the fitness centre that just want to go in after (a workout). Everyone loves it for stress relief and their reward.”

There were multiple variables impending a swifter completion of the project, starting with Alberta Health that had its hands full earlier on at the onset of the pandemic, which resulted in delays on getting the pool’s proposals approved.

Then came the need not only for engineers but contractors as well.

“It was all a waiting game,” she said, adding the work depended on their availability.

“Many of the contractors didn’t even want to look at the job because it was small, remote, and they’re busy in the cities building bigger things,” she said.

The job itself, while not a massive in scope, was nevertheless a specialized task that not only required the ability to work with cement, but also plumbing expertise for the drainage system, she said.

“And a lot of people would be able to do one or the other, but wouldn’t be able to do the entire job,” she said.

Regardless, she said that largely as a result of “the amazing people we have on our board of directors,” the aquatic society ultimately triumphed over Murphy’s Law.

A quote for the project had come in at about $98,500 plus GST, but McQuaid rounded up the overall cost to $100,000 courtesy of a volunteer who stepped up to be the general contractor overseeing the work.  

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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